Russians to develop Falcon 9-like rocket

The competition heats up: The Russian government has apparently given the go-ahead to the development of a Falcon 9-like modular rocket, original dubbed Soyuz 5 but now called Fenix (Phoenix).

The images at the link show it to be similar in concept to Falcon 9, with its first stage used as a component to produce multiple configurations. With one first stage it would resemble Falcon 9. In its Falcon Heavy configuration it would use three first stages strapped together. Moreover, the article notes that development would begin as expendable, but shift towards re-usability during operation, like Falcon 9. And it does appear that reducing cost is its main driver, since it will involve the development of only one engine and the reuse of it in every stage, like Falcon 9,

If all goes as outlined in the plan (don’t bet on it), the rocket would be operational by 2025, which is the one difference with Falcon 9. SpaceX got its rocket designed and launched in about five years. The Russian governmental system is going to take ten years to do the same..

The article is a detailed explanation of the rocket mentioned by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin during his confusing television briefing on December 30. The irony here is that, while this rocket might be able to compete with the Falcon 9 of 2016, when it becomes operational in 2025 who knows what will be considered competitive.